The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary last week have once again put the gun control debate on the forefront of US politics, and today the National Rifle Association, one of the nation’s largest lobbyist groups, announced that they think violent video games caused the tragedy at Newtown, not guns.
NRA Chief Officer Wayne Lapierre held a special press conference this morning regarding the NRA’s response to the mass shooting, saying that “A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18…”
Lapierre implied that he believes that the creators of violent video games like Bulletstorm and Mortal Kombat are more responsible for the deaths at Sandy Hook than the people who gave the gunman access to his weapons, saying “And throughout it all, too many in our national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonizes lawful gun owners.”
Now, I’m not here to debate the issue of gun control — that’s a topic that’s way too serious and complicated for a tiny game blog to handle — but I’m pretty sure anybody who’s ever played a video game in their life will realize the stupidity of the NRA’s claims today. Lapierre cited two games in particular as being particularly influential in our country’s recent spat of mass shootings: Splatterhouse and Mortal Kombat, two games which don’t even have that many guns in them (I’m not sure if there are any guns at all in Splatterhouse, for that matter,) which should give you an idea about just how little Lapierre and the rest of the NRA know about games.
Furthermore, his statements completely fly in the face of nearly every scientific study done on the subject of video game violence, as most behavioral scientists have already concluded that there is no connection between seeing violence in the media and behaving violently in real life.
The NRA advocating the censorship of the media just comes off as hypocritical; they get brutally defensive about protecting their Second Amendment rights, but now they’re advocating a policy of censorship that completely shits all over the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. I’m not goint to take sides in the gun control debate, but I think at this point even the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment might want to distance themselves from the NRA, because the group is clearly run by a bunch of people who have no idea what they’re talking about and are only making their side in the debate look substantially worse by association.